Before June of 1967, sixteen states still prohibited interracial marriage, including Virginia, the home of Richard Perry Loving, a white man, and his wife, Mildred Loving, a woman of African-American and Native-American descent.  Years prior in June 1958, the couple traveled to Washington, D.C. where interracial marriage was legal to get married.  However, upon their return to Virginia they were arrested and sentenced to one year in jail for violating the state’s Racial Integrity Act.  At the time the trial judge suspended the Lovings’ sentence for a period of 25 years on the condition that they leave the state and not return to Virginia together for 25 years.

The judge stated:

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

The Lovings reluctantly left their home and went on to live in Washington, D.C. where they had three children named Peggy, Donald and Sidney.  But the injustice they suffered in Virginia still hurt deep so they decided to ask the ACLU to aid them in getting the Virginia decision reversed and in June 1967, the court unanimously declared Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 unconstitutional and ended all race-based marriage bans in the U.S.

Now, nearly 45 years after the landmark Loving vs. Virginia case, HBO is taking an intimate look at the story of Richard and Mildred Loving with their documentary “The Loving Story.”  Set to air on Valentine’s Day at 9PM, the film “tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving to examine the drama, the history, and the current state of interracial marriage and tolerance in the United States,” according to the film’s official site.  “The Loving Story” has enjoyed sold-out screenings at festivals and special events and has already won numerous awards and accolades like the Screenplay Award at the ScreenDocs Documentary Festival.

Will you be watching?

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  • right!correct

    Just found out Frederick Douglas was married to a white woman. Didnt know that! Im married to a great man who happens to be white and am greatful to the Lovings.

    • it is true.

      but lesser known, is that his first wife was anna murray – a black woman who douglas kind of abandoned as he – a ‘biracial’ man – moved among the abolitionist movement.

      anna murray was critical to his to his life and career; yet even now is rarely mentioned; and hardly at all in his autobiography.

      it’d was almost like barack ditching michelle – for hillary’s sister – after becoming senator.

      part of the abolitionist movement’s politic was having white women marry acceptable black men. this would do much to undermine white men’s sexual privileges and convince somewhat receptive others of black people’s humanity and social acceptability.

      black people marrying each other didn’t directly send that message and so wasn’t as valuable to that particular ‘liberation’ movement.

      that ethos continues today and is represented in the story choices – and even politicized promotion – of a film like ‘red tails’:

      what i see in that clip is howard saying that black people’s access to whiteness inspiring social justice.

      do you think such ideas to be at all problematic?

      would anna murray-douglas?

    • Jess

      @Gryph: Not true at all that Douglas abandoned his Black wife. You should really stop using wikipedia, which can be updated by any random person, for your facts, particularly on Black history. So much of wikipedia is incredibly wrong. And please check – the New York times did an article on wikipedia a few months ago and reported that the average updater on wikipedia is a young, white male in his 20s. Not someone at all who has the best interests of Black people at heart.

      @right!corect: Douglas’ first wife was a Black woman who he was married to for over 40 years, until she died. He then, as a very old man, married a white woman. Probably an easy way to have a nurse around.

      Man, Black people REALLy need history. This is sad.

    • @jess

      so. just because it might have been written or edited by a white person; it is automatically ‘not good’ or ‘wrong’?

      interesting. i wonder if you apply this to everything, lol.

      you are nit-picking. yes. they were married until her death; but he wasn’t particularly with her and they’d grown estranged.

      i’d seen that in other places not just wikipedia.

      however, reading his autobiography he makes little to no mention of her. why is that, jess?

      slave narratives were white abolitionist propaganda. the abolitionist movement didn’t want the idea that black people were freeing and inspiring other black people to dominate the conversation – or the public memory.

  • befree1619

    @Jess, you are telling history by omission. Douglass did abandon his black wife. Douglass would leave for long periods of time and barely communicate with Anna. Anna remained illiterate all her life and some argued Douglass was embarrassed by her lack of education. She did not attend functions with him.
    You don’t have to divorce someone to abandon them. First, Douglass had several affairs with white women. Julia Griffiths who worked for Douglas soon became his almost constant companion in public. It caused quite a scandal in Rochester, NY while still married to Anna. Eventually, the scandal became too much and in 1855 Julia Griffiths returned to England and got married. Secondly, Douglass had a 28 year affair with German journalist Ottilie Assing who tutored Anna (Douglass’s wife) and their children. Assing thought when Anna died, he would marry her. Douglass did not she married another white woman who was 20 years his junior Helen Pitts. Ottilie was distraught over the news and suffering from cancer she went to a local park and ingested potassium. Ottilie left Frederick Douglass as the sole heir in her will. These affairs are well documented in several books. This is where I learned of his treatment of Anna.The daughter of Frederick and Anna Douglass, Rosetta Douglas Sprague, wrote a biography of her mother in 1900; the biography, “My Mother as I Recall Her, Fredericka writes, “Too often are the facts of the great sacrifices and heroic efforts of the wives of renowned men overshadowed by the achievements of the men and the wonderful and beautiful part she has played so well is overlooked.”
    There is more than one form of abandonment. While this does not take away from his accomplishments, to simply say he was married to her for 40 years doesn’t give the whole picture.

  • befree1619

    This story has been beaten to death.

  • I plan to watch. A friend told me about this and I’m sharing with some friends.

    I saw a movie about the Lovings many years ago and was fascinated. My husband died in 2010. We were an interracial couple – he was white and I am black but we lived in Brooklyn, NY and New Jersey before moving to North Carolina. He was a very brave and stalwart man and we had a great life together.